tv Book Discussion on Strategic Failure CSPAN July 26, 2015 8:00pm-8:54pm EDT
and once it was just afghans they would get together. intensifying violence. the afghan forcesthe afghan forces are taking casualties at a rate that is unsustainable command we have clearly mismanaged relations with pakistan. they continue to support the taliban. we had an opportunity. this was another problem with the
rapid pullout. the pakistanis came into view that america was not in the region for a long time. they continued backing thinking that india would fill up the void. you know i do think it lookslooked like we were not even going to have troops in afghanistan. we backed up a bit on that because we saw how bad it was. i think certainly if we continue to de-escalate afghanistan is going to fall apart and also going to have tremendously damaging ramifications in pakistan where we have great interest >> now, critics would say it was a hopeless case and the start. we put in the wrong person president karzai who was hopelessly corrupt. the ama, afghan national army was corrupt and incompetent like his iraqi counterpart. what we're looking at them
allmore we are really seeing is societies and countries which are in a state of extended collapse and failure and there is nothing the united states could have done to pass the situation out. trying to establish democracy in afghanistan and iraq was a fool's errand and the united states should have instead maintained a kind of hands-off approach and it is not just -- it is the only -- it is the best -- it is the best worst policy. given your experiences in afghanistan do you think this would have had a completely different outcome now that we are if aa different strategy and if a different policy have been followed? >> there have been a lot of mistakes made.
we struggled because we vacillated between a policy of trying to turn afghanistan into a viable democracy. one of the things you have to keep in mind in the early days we outsourced a lot of that to the europeans we let the germans handle that and they assigned few resources to it. it was poorly managed. we lost a lot of time. itit is a problem of our european allies. it would be great if we can get them to do things and take the burden off of us, but they have not been able to do a lot of things. we got behind the curve. sending our resources. it is a long-term process to nation build. we too often neglect that as
a generational project. the american people have the patience for this. >> it has become a dirty word in politics. you cannot go on capitol hill and talk about nationbuilding without being shown the door. >> part of it is a hasty approach. it is a long-term process. this gets into the debate within the obama administration. 2,009 you have the leading figures saying we will nation build. we will do counterinsurgency pass by this place, secure's. that is too ambitious. focus on kind terrorists drones, and special
operations forces. 2,009 they really argued that trying to just focus that narrowly is not going to work in the context of afghanistan. and so fast forward to 2011. continuing to make these arguments. coming up with arguments that have not worked in afghanistan. he is able to gain new supporters for a strategy thanks to the fact that the trail, mcchrystal's, gates moving on and you now have political supporters of the president moving into positions. you do get the president to buy off on the strategy. we are going to use our drones and special operations forces to kill any enemies that happen to be here.
and thisand this then becomes strategy not just for afghanistan before the us presence at large which then it conveniently allows the administration to say we don't need big ground forces because we can use special operations and rounds. >> let's talk about drones for 2nd. when we talk about the hands-off small footprint approach to american conflict, american power particularly in the war on terror this has become a hallmark of the obama administration is. the number of predator drone attacks if you chart the monograph from the bush administration which initiated the use of lethal force administered by unmanned aerial vehicles to the obama administration it is a straight curve up and now it has become the principal tool by which
obama and his advisers deal with the terrorist threat the terrorist threat that they do not name. the obama administration justifies on the ground that it has been successful in crippling al qaeda. just a couple weeks ago they're was a senior al qaeda official and libya was killed by predator drone strike. the obama administration has been deployed to these high profile highly -- high leadership positions that have been vacated things to predator drone strikes and to the body count if i can use that term for the war on terror. measures of success. what i find interesting about your book and i'm
going to ask you in particular, but i we will do do it this way. what i find so interesting is that while most of us are focused on the threat for isis you remind is the fact that al qaeda far from being an extinct presence is very much alive and part of the terror networks and the growing threat that we have to deal with. what is the relationship between obama's much touted drones break counterterror strategy and the continuing viability and growth of al qaeda, not to mention isis. >> drones certainly can be tactfully useful and have scored formidable successes. the problem with the administration is they turn them into a strategy in many cases. as a substitute for other things that need to be done. this is also driven by domestic politics. early on we were taught.
i think a lot of the information has been fed to the public about drones is inaccurate. the administration touted the numbers in pakistan. it turns out the vast majority of the people were not important terrorists. a terrorists. a lot of them were people who are enemies of the pakistani government. then a number of innocent civilians were killed. most countries don't even let us use drones. it is mostly pakistan and yemen. yemen, a pretty stark case of limitations. >> let me back up for a 2nd so that we understand. the fact that so many of these predator strikes and killing of high-profile terrorist and al qaeda leaders in yemen and pakistan isn't because that is where they are all hanging out the because
those of the two countries which have the most liberal policies are letting america conduct a strikes. >> and we have seen over time, a permission diminished because of the fact that we were killing the wrong people for the fallout from the bin laden raid. they shut down a drum base. even when the drones were at there height you had the subway bomber and faisal's is odd that is that truck and the time square training in pakistan in those areas at the same time. most troubling the extremists have been able to find ways to beat the drones counter drone technology and pakistan particularly al qaeda has moved into the big cities
where we cannot use our drones, the government won't let us and there is too much risk of civilian casualties. so the impact of drones has been declining. certainly they're is still value to them. surveillance good abilities are good. yemen has totally gone to pieces. the military was pushing president obama to use counterinsurgency as well as persistent strikes and the administration so we only to do that. the insurgents took over the country earlier command we had to pull out our special operators. now we can't do much at all in terms of drone strikes. one recent success a signature strike which is something just based on suspicious behavior. we didn't actually no that was a senior leader. you may no the world's leading terrorist bomb maker
is still in yemen. i very much worried about al qaeda and yemen pakistan has been somewhat quiet but for most indications this injury be -- the rebuilding which is part of the fear. as we pull out of afghanistan that we will further embolden al qaeda in pakistan. >> if the drone strategy is not working that's your some prescriptions about how to correct the direction. direction. my last questions i will be getting to a broader sense. for now, what is the alternative? >> certainly a lot of the good alternatives actually i think, we have lost out. may decisions where we put ourselves back. we could've been talking about how we would build up the government counterinsurgency capability. now wenow we don't have a
government to work with, so it will be harder. we try at some.to build up large military forces. trying to get arab countries to do that. pakistan our relationship now has been in preset shape. i think we can to some extent ease some of the pakistani government concerns by maintaining a us presence. i think we need to increase our presence. the current small footprint is not what our military recommended. we need more troops they're for long-term. even if we are going to keep them they're we need to make clear that we we will keep them as long as is needed. if it is going to be a hundred years we can tell people. conveying the message is very important. >> do we still have troops in germany?
>> we do. >> troops in south korea. getting on tour 70 years. >> that's correct. >> the size that we are talking about is not numbering in the hundreds of thousands. it is not requiring commitments of that size. >> correct. >> but it is commitments to a specific kind of strategy. the other book which i should mention is a book on the history of counterinsurgency. the evolution of it. and i think that for a lot of people what has happened as a result of the war the very success did something. counterinsurgency became associated with state building which is a dirty word bipartisan consensus on the hill right now that we do not want to engage in say building and also it became identified with long
grueling processes in which the iraq war unfolded from is very hopeful beginnings in 2003 until finally the tray assert paid off almost on the eve of the 2008 election. i was an advocate of counterinsurgency and saying this is an important strategy which the us needs to hang on to. how do you deal with critics of counterinsurgency who say that it is either going to get a so involved that it is a hopeless task and the falls and are that it takes so long the american public we will have the patience for it and it's a strategy that in the long-term is one of diminishing returns. >> that is a good topic. there are a lot of people who think counterinsurgency
itself does not work. a book ina book in the "wall street journal" called how to lose a war the right way. and that book basically makes the argument that you need -- insurgency wars are inherently intractable. my.is counterinsurgency, part of the problem is that some of the counterinsurgency enthusiasts believe that you had to pull out this manual and do these things and counterinsurgency would work great. it is more complicated than that. part of the obama administration's frustration with afghanistan was that it was not as easy as some of the proponents suggested. what i believe and what i have argued is that, counterinsurgency depends heavily on the leadership the human capitol brought to bear on both sides. if you have a strong pool of
leaders on the counterinsurgency side chances areside, chances are good he will succeed and historically we have seen quite a few that have worked well. the philippines, columbia, el salvador, successes in afghanistan and iraq. and so we need to try to move people away from the view the counterinsurgency is a cure-all or that it never works because it very much depends upon the context and do was involved. >> can you say one of the reasons why the evolution of successful strategy took so long was because after vietnam and what was felt to be the failed us strategies there including counterinsurgency those doctrines were put on a shelf allowed to gather dust even with the marine corps which is the great progenitors of counterinsurgency warfare and that this is one of the
problems. when you don't treated as an important tool you find yourself in situations in which you have got to go back and dig it out and dusted off and trying get its work. youyou have thought perhaps crucial decade or two of loss doctrine. >> i think that is one of the big problems we face. in 2012 the obama administration so we will not be doing prolonged stability operations. there's a sense that we have done counterinsurgency. it was messy and we didn't like it. ifif we remove our capability to do it then we won't do it again. we will we have seen historically is that we get surprised by these kind of wars. we didn't want to do counterinsurgency. bush came to power and so we would not do these things. we end up being in iraq.
things go south. afghanistan's, we turn things over to the europeans they can handle it. we decide it is in our interest to go back in and do counterinsurgency. we're poorer predicting the next war. the idea that we can no we don't have to do one of these things again is dangerous and ultimately if we are not prepared the people who we will pay the most other people in the armed forces who will not be prepared for the war. >> with america's retreat, six, six and a half years has come the advance of other powers russia, china iran. now, you cannot make the argument that the strategic failures that you describe in the book is the result the withdrawal of american troops from those countries
and regions. how do youhow do you attribute this? what is it? there is a pattern obviously to the way in which these aggressor nations are taking full opportunity but how is it related directly to the way in which the obama administration policies in other areas have rebounded to creating knew strategic threats. >> certainly the cut and the defense budget driven to a large extent by what was going on in the middle east has had a global impact. i think our enemies have been encouraged by that. our friends have become more concerned. they doubt our credibility but also add to that decisions that the united states has made. the syrian red line that we backed away from the administration has consistently been reluctant to stand up for things.
ukraine is a particularly disturbing example where we said we would protect them if they give up the nuclear weapons and then they are under attack and we don't do anything. that is particularly disconcerting. we have done -- in the case of china we provoke them by saying we would pivot to asia so that that stimulated defense spending and we ended up not executing because we cut the defense budget. i think they're have been a lot of missteps in terms of public messaging which really is a white house responsibility. we saw the secretary of defense trying to mitigate some of the problems. ultimately foreign leaders pay attention to what the white house is saying. also, cuts in our capability headed down below 3 percent of gdp has created worries among
countries. a lot of countries want to end up being on the side of the power that we will be most powerful in the region and the thinking it won't be the united states. >> in the conclusion of your book you have the statement. by the time barack obama vacates the white house he could go down in history as the president who forfeited americans global captaincy and ushered in a long era of global strife and stability. now, the next president as obama vacates and the knew one was an let's assume that he or she wants to reverse the process. now is your chance to tell us about how you would prescribe what advice you would be giving to a president in order to reverse the process. start with the specific
command how would you handle the situation in afghanistan in order to bring that to success or even victory? >> well, i would 1st commit the us presence beyond 2016. i think that we need to increase the number of troops to at least 20,000. and they don'tand they don't have to be going up operations. >> that is not a big jump. >> it's not. we need at least 20,000 troops. we are keeping troops behind the wire. we're going to have to send people out. there is not a quick fix because of what we have done we can't just have the courage do everything. we can't do in and bar awakening because we have so alienated the sunnis. we don't really want the shiites just going in and taking things over and taking the country fully into iran's orbit.
that we will be a longer-term process. i think probably need to increase defense spending which historically is relatively low. you could even justify going to 5 percent. what the next pres. has to do is reengage of the public. this president has done little to explain to the american people why the overseas commitment. if you look at polls people say public support for overseas intervention is down and a lot of that is the pres.'s fault. he came into office in in 2009 saying he would get tough in afghanistan. he felt he had to do that. he got elected. the public support has faded because they have seen the
president not commit to conflicts. why do we need 4 percent gdp still need to be engaged in the world which we will go a long way. no american boots on the ground. well wewhile we don't want to just send american troops and whatever there needed that really has encouraged other countries and then the discouragement our allies that feel like we won't be they're for them when things get tough. >> been more time talking about what we're not going to do them what we are going to do. should we open it up to the
it might have made sense to go in but i do think at that time we probably -- we likely would have made the same mistake of underestimating what it would've taken to pacify and stabilize the country. it was an option that you could have pursued them and probably could have again. decapitate the regime and authoritarianauthoritarian government. things would have played out differently. it's hard to no all the stuff that would have come in the interim. now looking back in hindsight a lot of people think it would've been great if you were still there because we were not at have
to deal with that messy conflict. now a ran has become the dominant force. we could have prevented it ran from gaining his stamina position had been uphold out in 2011 because it opens the door. it will be hard for us to get away from in the long-term let's hope we have. there ishave. there is a hope that we can keep it from becoming completely pro-iranian. the only way you can have a unified iraqi government trying to do three separate governments. a problem with the kurds. they don't want to kurdish nation having the city state
is not probably how we would've liked to government people underestimated what would take to democratize iraq. there was a beliefa belief that he introduced the institutions and can quickly democratize. experience is shown you have to have a culture that is tolerant and willing to embrace democracy command you don't have that typically. it is a long-term process. twenty years or more often times we will be required. in hindsight does it make sense? i think we have seen it is harder than we thought so we
have reason to be more pessimistic. in the long-term you can still make a case whether islamic countries can be made into democracies i don't think it's impossible. we had a great opportunity to show was working. tunisia is now possibly an option as well. catastrophic terror attack on friday. tunisia is in a fragile place. there are people that want democracy. that is by no means certain. >> two quick words. partly in this agreement. it is important to realize
the 1st gulf war successful outcome would have been that we would not be in the awkward position humiliating position of having betrayed the shiite revolt that we encouraged against saddam and that poisoned relations with the shiite majority in the country and opened the door for aranda cultivators connections. the other question about democracy in iraq important to remember the idea that iraq was being the perfect laboratory for creating a democratic regime goes way back to the 1980s 1980s. state department fixture the idea that iraq was one and country in which even under saddam's survival
stable civil society that would make cultivating relations with iraq easier and supportive but also could lead to the evolution of a democratic iraq. one of the factors which helped undermine that if you read miss flies recent book on the outcome of the war for one of the things that helped to undermine the stable civil society where the sanctions, the un sanctions imposed after the 1st gulf war which deeply impoverished iraq destabilized iraqi society achieved people talking about professors wondering well-respected professors at iraqi universities wandering the streets begging for money.
thethe degree to which saddam hussein in power holding the sanctions regime did go a long way i think, to creating conditions that made the us mission pacifying the country and establishing a knew stable government that much more difficult. the what if's you could be here all afternoon. let's move on to the next question. three in the front and then over to the side. here and then they're and they're. those three. >> hello. thank you for holding this event. yesterday two major things happened in china mainline economics. a black monday for the stock market. the 2nd is asia infrastructure investment. you know gdp able to
launch. with 57 countries that sign an agreement. do you think this result is a reflection of american foreign-policy? it is hard to see this country to sign. a strong country. but with the us how america regained especially the asia-pacific region and nato and other parts and also for taiwan policy and mainland china policy. taiwan wanted to play a bigger role especially during the ebola crisis. they. that was the way out. if i remember correctly congressman said this is not so wise politics.
he used -- how do you think about china policy. >> this is aa very interesting and important question. we have not talked about china at all. surveying americansurveying american foreign-policy dysfunction takes a long time or no. so you have to be selective about where you target. let's talk about china has another example of the obama strategic failures you talk about the book. >> yeah. the development bank is the telling and troubling development where most of the us allies in the region ended up going along with china despite the fact that the us encourage them not to sign on. and i think that is a reflection of declining confidence in the united states.
i think parti think part of it is specifically what the us is doing in asia and pacific appears to be pursuing a policy of gaining control over waters through small provocations that are going to drive the united states to the brink of war. scarborough sure a trend case with the us could have probably taken a harder line. we backed off. another country see country see the united states are standing firm that causes them to change your outlook. having covered vietnam if you look back to 1960s you see some things are not that different from them. you had us and china competing for prestige. sometimes the united states overestimates the value of
its democracy and we tend to think a lot of these countries we will go with us because there closer to is politically than china, but most countries in asia are conscious of who is stronger china's defense budget is getting bigger, building artificial islands, more ships, talking about the china dream that they will become this great power where is the united states has declining budgets not talking about how we want to be this great pacific power very much. we're showing that we are in retreat. i think there is a great fear of isolationism in the united states which i think is not just a problem with the administration but within the republican party there is an isolationist wing and ii talk in the book a bit about how the millennial generation in the united states seems to be more inclined toward
isolationism. they don't seem to understand why or believe that there is a need for strong us presence overseas which is where i think national leadership can be important in terms of explain to people why we need to be concerned about what is going on in the south china sea because right now certainly america is in the decline in the asia-pacific region. does not have to be but if we keep trimming our defense budget they will mean smaller air and naval presence. the pivot to asia the intent was correct that many more military forces to strengthen confidence, but it has not deliver those forces because of sequestration of the budget cuts. >> next question, the dillman there. then you and then you are
next. and then lady in a 2nd row >> us naval academy. you mentioned two things in your response millennial generation and the fact to a large extent that i think the american public does not really understand or even discuss geopolitics, especially in regard to great power politics. we misinterpret why the russians going to crimea and so forth. what. what i want to post to you is how we deal with the next generation of advisors to the president okay? this generation as you alluded to they have no experience in the cold war. they have no experience in the post-cold war, and a lot of what you are talking about regarding
counterinsurgency and so forth was to a large extent the result of failures. the american people take a dim view of that. how do we get the advisors and the staffers that are going to be advising the next president of the national security council about this multipolar threat environment that we are involved in today. >> tremendous question. i would say generation x which is my generation is in decent shape. generation x has a fairly good understanding of global problems and the dangers of getting this engaged certainly not universally true, but i do think the experiences of iraq and afghanistan have jaded a lot
of people across generations which is important -- unfortunate because we could have maintained something. the fact that we pulled out and now it has gone to hell, a lot of people will look at that, not the intervening steps but the final outcome. it was a total disaster and that could afghanistan. happen in afghanistan. the millennial's is where we have the biggest challenge. you not only have there seems to be this general view that they are not -- they don't really believe in very much the broader principles. a lot of the same things about the baby-boom generation. maybe it is not irreversible some people would argue the united states has to get over this isolationist wing. we havewe have gone through it before. it will be permanent. if you look at europe the
great european imperial powers britain, france you hundred years ago what is said they would never become isolationists at least on the military side. they no longer aspire to be great military powers. there is a danger that if we can get to a.where this change in thinking becomes permanent and the us really is going to retreat from world affairs to a large extent at least in terms of military intervention which is particularly concerning because there is not really a viable substitute certainly not what we would like. youlike. you would then allow russia and china and they ran to control to be dominant in
certain regions,regions, and none of those countries are especially compatible with our interest. >> my question is on the topic of the kurds if you look at the us relationship between the kurds in turkey and iraq. where do you cs interacting with them in the future? do you think they will play a larger role in taking back iraq or the broader middle east? >> that is an excellent question. a lot of discussion lately about should we begin? they have made important gains. a couple difficulties. one is in some of the areas where isis are located and i really kurds. i don't think they would want to go into those areas. they're not going to settle those areas and if they did
try that would create a lot of problems. we have also seen turkey. this is been a problem going back yearsyears but turkey is talking about going in and fighting the kurds because of there fears of kurdish separatism. i don't think that is something the united states can ignore. they will play the cure for the problems. the capitol partly because places are using air power but we are going to go in the rocker and told the demolish the city of a half-million people. there gotthere got to the other ways and syria is particularly problematic because we don't have -- we
have only been able to get a a couple hundred syrian rebels to sign up for our training programs partly because we want you to only fight isis but not the asad government command most of them don't want to do that. i think the income of the solution to that problem. we -- i think probably we need to take a firmer stance i don't think much will get resolved in syria for the end of this. it was kind of a token gesture. sounds like we're doing something that really not. >> am going to play devil's advocate. some would argue look at the situation spillover into turkey, eastern part of the kurdish areas.
you no what, he should let this by itself out. here we are with these conflicts. isis kelly asad. become a major subject for discussion of american foreign-policy except that we are supposedly responsible. why should we worry about what is happening now? look ahead to when the fire is finally out and how we go about rebuilding society from there. >> that's a good question. a lot of americans asking themselves that question. why we need to do this. telling the obama administration we didn't
need troops in iraq. theythey are sending more troops indicates that even they understand this is not a problem we can just turn our backs on. we got lucky. we have certainly seen some pretty significant terrorist attacks. the attack on tunisia with a killed dozens of european tourists is i think a pretty disturbing sign. the french oil worker. it is harder to get to the united states if we don't care at all what happens outside of our country he can make a bit of a stronger case. we do need to be concerned.
theythey are now taking a policy that we will pay ransom for hostages which is open the door to more americans being kidnapped. i think we'll see an unfortunate rise and that. i do think this violence between sunni and shiite is creating more radicals. some are killing each other off, but if you look at the number of extremist fighters out they're it seems to be going up and up. producing people at a faster rate. now that isis controls territory they are recruiting people. claiming that weclaiming that we kill large number of fighters with the latest indications for the strength is as high as it has been. >> is to make fun of that strategy. >> yet it seems to be the one we are employing right now. >> and they are certainly -- certainly we will be seeing more lone wolf attacks. we have had a number of
cases where people come close. fortunately we are good at uncovering those ahead of time but you have people like the brothers who blew up the boston marathon. clear indications that people in the united states, disillusioned youth are deciding to join isis or other groups because of the successes they see and the effective use of social media. if we don't care. they can sit back. the american people are not going to stand for that. more people get killed in car wrecks. that may be true but what our security is turned the willing to do is take a very
passive and reactive approach to all of us. >> which we might have avoided if we had taken a more proactive. >> the middle east reporting. i have two questions. outlined how the vice president's gave lousy advice to the president. hillary clinton was secretary of state. what was her advice? my 2nd question, for the knew president assuming that we do no correctly the outlines of the nuclear deal with iran how would you advise the next president to undo the strategic failure? >> that's a good question. i still think there is a lot we are still in -- they're is a lot of historical documentation. so that will come out 30
years from now. hillary clinton's role they're is still a lot of open questions. itit was interesting. one of her biggest accomplishments was getting us out. i do thinki do think that she was supportive and keeping some kind of presence there. ii would say i give her some credit for that. she did not want to see malik he take control have unfettered access to the country. if you are -- the country that i criticize his libya where she felt libya would be this great success. the recent e-mails show this was going to be her success story that she could tout and how we went in they're and deposed regime without us troops and use dollars to policy. it has not worked out.
the desire tothe desire to keep us troops led to the benghazi tragedy. in terms of the ran i do think that the current deal is not -- is a bad deal for the united states and its allies. and so i tend to agree with a lot of the advice the republicans have. you should not accept a deal -- part of it,it the other thing i would say is that we have -- by removing forces from the region were removed are deterrent capability. iran pays a lot of attention to how many american forces are in the region. having made clear that we don't have anything like the capability to go in they're we will embolden them in the nuclear talks and also say at some.somebody bombs iran's nuclear sites